US court sentences Hushpuppi to 11 years in prison for fraud, orders him to pay $1.7m to victims

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Hushpuppi pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 10 months after he was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in June 2020.

US court sentences Hushpuppi to 11 years in prison for fraud, orders him to pay $1.7m to victims

A United States District Court for the Central District of California has finally sentenced Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abass Olorunwa, popularly known as Hushpuppi, to 11 years and three months in prison for fraud.

The 40-year-old was sentenced on Monday, November 7, by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who also ordered Abbas to pay $1,732,841 in restitution to two fraud victims.

Hushpuppi pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 10 months after he was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in June 2020.
Hushpuppi pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 10 months after he was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in June 2020.

The judge said Hushpuppi conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through online scams and flaunted his luxurious, crime-funded lifestyle on social media.

He pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 10 months after he was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in June 2020.

Hushpuppi has remained in US federal custody since his expulsion from the UAE.

A statement released by the US court read:

“Abbas bragged on social media about his lavish lifestyle – a lifestyle funded by his involvement in transnational fraud and money laundering conspiracies targeting victims around the world,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.

“Money laundering and business email compromise scams are a massive international crime problem, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement and international partners to identify and prosecute those involved, wherever they may be.”

“Ramon Abbas, a.k.a. ‘Hushpuppi,’ targeted both American and international victims, becoming one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” said Don Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

“Abbas leveraged his social media platforms – where he amassed a considerable following – to gain notoriety and to brag about the immense wealth he acquired by conducting business email compromise scams, online bank heists and other cyber-enabled fraud that financially ruined scores of victims and provided assistance to the North Korean regime.

“This significant sentence is the result of years’ worth of collaboration among law enforcement in multiple countries and should send a clear warning to international fraudsters that the FBI will seek justice for victims, regardless of whether criminals operate within or outside United States borders.”

Abbas apologized for his crimes to Judge Otis D Wright in a handwritten note, saying he would use his personal funds to pay back his victims. He also said he had only made $300,000 from the crime he was being tried for.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Wright ordered Abbas to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm victim and $809,983 in restitution to the businessperson in Qatar.

Abbas and another conspirator duped the victim businessperson into paying approximately $330,000 to fund an “investor’s account” to facilitate the loan. Abbas specifically directed the victim to send $100,000 to a bank account controlled by a co-conspirator, and $230,000 to the bank account of a luxury watch seller. Abbas used those funds for his personal benefit, including purchasing a $230,000 Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which he arranged to have brought to him from New York to Dubai. The watch made numerous appearances on Abbas’ wrist on his now-defunct Instagram account, often with the hashtag #RichardMille.

Approximately $50,000 of proceeds from the scheme were used to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis citizenship and a passport for Abbas through a sham marriage to a St. Kitts citizen.

In January and February 2020, Abbas and another conspirator corresponded with the victim businessperson, attempting to fraudulently induce a further payment of $575,000 in purported taxes to release the $15 million loan. In February 2020, the victim sent approximately $299,983 to Kenyan bank accounts specified by another conspirator. In March 2020, Abbas fraudulently induced the victim to send another $180,000 to U.S.-based bank accounts; those funds were subsequently laundered with assistance from several co-conspirators.

“By his own admission, during just an 18-month period defendant conspired to launder over $300 million,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “While much of this intended loss did not ultimately materialize, [Abbas’] willingness and ability to participate in large-scale money laundering highlight the seriousness of his criminal conduct.”

The FBI investigated this matter as part of Operation Top Dog. The FBI thanks the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department for their substantial assistance in this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section prosecuted this case. The Justice Department Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in this matter